The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was signed into law by President Clinton in May 2000 with the objective of expanding U.S. trade and investment with Sub-Saharan Africa, stimulating economic growth, encouraging economic integration, and facilitating sub-Saharan Africa’s integration into the global economy. The legislation has been extended a number of times since it was enacted in 2000, most recently in 2015 through an Act of Congress (and following a lengthy hearing process. AGOA will now expire in 2025.
The Act establishes the annual U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Economic Cooperation Forum (known as the AGOA Forum) to promote a high-level dialogue on trade and investment-related issues. The legislation significantly enhances market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. Qualification for AGOA preferences is based on a set of conditions contained in the AGOA legislation. In order to qualify and remain eligible for AGOA, each country must be working to improve its rule of law, human rights, and respect for core labor standards.
Currently 39 Sub-Saharan African countries are eligible for benefits under AGOA. At the center of AGOA are substantial trade preferences that, along with those under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), allow virtually all marketable goods produced in AGOA-eligible countries to enter the U.S. market duty-free. Additionally, AGOA provides eligible countries with:
– Most liberal access to US markets for any country or region without a free trade agreement
– Reinforced Africa reform and development efforts
– Access to US credit and technical expertise
The African Growth and Opportunity ACT (AGOA) CSO Network
The AGOA Civil Society Organization (CSO) Network is a consortium of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), small-to-medium sized business representatives, chambers of commerce and other groups in the United States and Africa that are interested in the successful application of AGOA for the benefit of the US and African peoples. This focus is with an eye towards improving the ease and understanding of US-Africa trade and to fully utilizing the benefits of AGOA, thus securing a place for African countries in the global economy and raising the standards of living of the masses of Africa. And in keeping with the spirit of the African Growth and Opportunity Act* (AGOA), the mission of the Network is to empower African people through their civil society organizations to work with governments and businesses to take maximum advantage of AGOA benefits on behalf of the citizens of their countries.
About the AGOA CSO Network Secretariat
In 2001, FDA was awarded a grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) entitled the West Africa Economic Support Program (WAESP) .This program provided training on US-Africa trade issues, as well as, the efficacy of public-private partnerships as a means of enhancing a country’s ability to conduct trade under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The project included activities at the national level in Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Benin and in four states in Nigeria. The West Africa Economic Support Program was highly successful and USAID extended FDA’s grant for this program from three years to five years. WAESP was also one of the first projects funded by USAID to provide training and technical assistance under AGOA, and as a result of its delivery, the AGOA Civil Society Network was created.
The AGOA CSO Network Secretariat was established by 102 AGOA CSO member organizations from the United States, Mauritius, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Namibia, Mali, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo on January 17, 2003, during the AGOA Civil Society Forum in Phoenix, Mauritius. The Foundation for Democracy in Africa (FDA) and the Mauritius Council of Social Services were elected as co-chairs and empowered to establish and manage the Secretariat for the AGOA Civil Society Network. Additionally, the Secretariat was authorized to make all the necessary preparations for the next AGOA Civil Society Forum.
FDA has been providing in kind support for the AGOA Civil Society Network Secretariat, since its inception in 2003. Over the past 16 years, FDA’s support has enabled the AGOA CSO Network Secretariat to: organize and chair the annual AGOA CSO Civil Sessions in the US and throughout Africa; prepare, and present Civil Society Communiqués to the Ministerial Sessions of the annual AGOA Forums, and other stakeholders; maintain the AGOA CSO website; distribute information on AGOA to Network members, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and other interested parties; conduct training on AGOA eligibility requirement; provide trade capacity support to Network members, and MSMEs; and advocate for AGOA’s renewal on behalf of its members.